We all knew that the defense was going to be a work in progress this season. It’s just that we hoped to see a learning curve showing steady progression. Don’t look now, but maybe we are.
Through the first four games, Georgia’s defense was allowing an average of 338.8 yards per game, 4.7 yards per play, 22.8 points per game and had three interceptions. Take out that 66-0 win against lowly Troy, and yards per game increases to 379.7 yards, and points per game shoots up to 30.3. South Carolina and Tennessee averaged 6.2 and 5.1 yards per play, respectively, against the Bulldogs.
Since then, the Bulldogs have given up 233.5 yards per game, 17 points, 4.2 yards per play, and the opponents’ third-down conversation rate decreased from 31.7 percent to 10 percent. Georgia also has five interceptions.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, opponents’ points per drive against the Dawgs is down from 1.65 through the first four games to .65 in the past two.
Now I know that the quality of offenses Georgia faced in the last two games is less than what it was in the first four, but that defense we saw against Missouri flat out looked like it could ball.
Some of what I’m seeing may be the result of players who are developing a real sense of trust in Pruitt.
Swann said it’s all just “part of the business.”
“I just received a phone call, ‘You’re playing star.’ And that’s all it was. Whatever Coach calls me and says, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “We pretty much know (where we will play) through Monday. We know early enough to where we can get those reps at that position to the point to where we know what’s going on when we get in the game.”
And some of it’s players simply getting more comfortable with what they’re asked to do on the field.
Players are evolving within the defense, but they are also using their words more to make things work. They are asking teammates and coaches more questions. Guys are getting calls right more often. The Dawgs are now performing well, both physically and vocally.
“We know that when we communicate, we execute,” Bailey said. “When we don’t, things fall apart.
“It’s helping us learn his defense a lot better.”
All I can say is that if you’re not sold on things getting better simply by what Pruitt got out of Langley last weekend, I don’t know what to tell you.